A Monumental Traveling Presidential Library
When we consider the political and cultural connections of Jackson Park and the Obama Presidential Center we spin an incredibly tangled web. Knowing that the Obama Presidential Center is to reside within these messy connections, it is crucial to consider who the stakeholders are and how much power they hold. Who is the ultimate stakeholder? The City of Chicago, Jackson Park, Twitter, The Obamas? But what if we were to consider the citizens as the stakeholders?
History suggests that we are often making monuments to a man when instead we should be making monuments to a movement. With political boundaries cutting through neighborhoods attempting to benefit from any specific type of population, the Obama Presidential Center cannot function at the scale of the neighborhood but rather at the scale of the nation. To accomplish a nation sized monument to a movement the Obama Presidential Center will go through a three phase change process and will travel to varying locations taking its programs to the masses. Sited on the North end of Jackson Park the Center maintains access to amenities both near and far through the existing public transit infrastructure. Locals and visitors are brought together and dispersed again activating what was once the metaphorical center of the world, if even only for a short time in 1893 during the World’s Columbian Exposition.
To accommodate the transition phase of the project the building has been sectioned by two access routes able to accommodate the trucks and equipment needed to transport the exhibits and programs to the next location. The way this plays out in three phases.
Phase One: Winter Time in Chicago. The Obama Presidential Center is at its full 70,000 sf capacity with engaging exhibitions and programming. The heart of the project, the home to the Obama Foundation offices as well as classrooms and nonprofit incubators remains permanent activating the space at all times whether to experience the entirety of what the Obama Presidential Center has to offer, or simply a quick educational experience.
Phase Two: A Week in Spring. In the true spirit of a monument to a movement, volunteers and employees come together to pack up 60% of the building utilizing the help of an integrated gantry crane system and varying ‘wall’ typologies facilitating the transfer of sensitive materials. Over-sized garage doors are lifted and slid into new positions as trucks easily drive in, are loaded, and sent on their way. The exterior walls, slide through the access aisles into their new positions to enclose the building on the opposite side.
Phase Three: Summer in the Midwest. The center now allows the park to reach inside and house graduations, picnics, basketball games, protests, forums, town meetings, and all relevant programming for the nonprofit organizations growing within. Utilizing large open space trusses the building can maintain flexibility while still retaining views across the site as the system of columns races forward, drawing you deeper into the park.
These phases are a result of the spatial re-configurations that make the Center an apparatus for the change promised throughout the Obama presidency. In this moment we realize a that this monument to a movement was indeed started by a man, but it is most certainly not finished.